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Sprint Picks Moto for WiMax

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: FON) says it will work with Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) on WiMax tests planned for later this year and on into 2006.

The pair will work together on lab testing of base-station equipment, smart antennas, and handsets, followed by field trials of the kit. Sprint isn't yet saying where those field trials will be.

A company spokesman says it's too early to determine where and when trials will take place: "We need to see what the equipment capabilities are and then determine the locations ideal for testing. It will include urban environments. We will want to test under the most extreme conditions."

Sprint has already said it will work with chipmaker Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) on WiMax trials, and it's clear that the carrier is not yet ready to make any exclusive deals around WiMax (see Sprint Firms Up WiMax Plans).

"Motorola is our preferred partner at this stage of the ecosystem," says the Sprint spokesman. "We are trying to assemble leaders with chipsets, devices, base-station equipment, and infrastructure. That will allow us to validate standards and determine interoperability. We are going to do this with lab trials and eventually field trials, which will allow us to complete business-case evaluation.”

In fact, its pretty clear that the carrier and its merger partner, Nextel Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: NXTL), are not married to any particular broadband wireless technology yet. In the past, Nextel has tested Flarion Technologies and has just announced it is planning a test of IPWireless Inc.'s gear (see Nextel Flashes With Flarion and Nextel Trials IPWireless).

Sprint is just one of a bevy of big-name carriers planning trials of 802.16 equipment. U.S. players AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T), BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS) and Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q) have also announced plans to test WiMax kit, whilst European incumbents BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) and France Telecom SA (NYSE: FTE) are jumping on the bandwagon (see AT&T Plots WiMax Trial , BellSouth Maxes in Georgia, BT Maxes on Wireless, DT Preps WiMax Trials and France Telecom Trials 802.16).

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, and Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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